Normally,
when the local chamber of commerce issues a strongly-worded critique of
the governmment, the media grabs the story and runs with it. Not in
Tasmania.

The latest Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry/Commonwealth Bank
survey released this week was a shocker for the Lennon Government.
Accompanied by strong criticism of the government from Chamber boss,
Damon Thomas, the report is a prime example of a major local story
being buried. The Mercury hid the yarn on page ten yesterday, and on a
click-through page on the paper’s website.

The
paper blithely reported the response of the State Labor Government:
“…But Economic Development Minister Lara Giddings has rejected the
call from the TCCI.” And who did she blame? “Ms Giddings blamed the
re-election of the Howard Government on a platform of no interest rate
rises for the slump.”

Didn’t anyone give Lara the new lines from
yesterday? The Reserve actually put rates on hold, if the Economic
Development Minister hadn’t noticed. No wonder Tassie businesses are
getting jittery about the current lot in power. The chamber was so
frustrated it adopted the uncommon practice of circulating the entire
powerpoint presentation from the press conference to all chamber
members.

A couple of relevant excerpts from the report that went missing in the local media are worth recording:

“Tasmania has returned from the brink in recent years yet
its recovery has been largely cyclical. There has been an unmistakable
fall in confidence and the challenge before us is to prevent a pending
downturn associated with the normal economic cycle.”

“Positive
news regarding the new pulp mill is simply not enough to maintain
confidence levels. It is time the State Government accepts that the
Tasmanian Economy has peaked and is heading for a contraction. It must
act immediately to soften any adjustment.”

The minister would do well to read the report, and learn the lessons. But it’s so much easier to blame the messenger, isn’t it?

Peter Fray

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